The World Is
Too Huge to Grasp
(The American Poetry Review)
Still, tiger, there's no reason
not to tie your wife up
if that's what she's been dreaming about
in traffic. No reason not to
go out and eat twenty doughnuts
if that's what you want instead of granola
because, whether you like it or not,
it's a skeleton you're wearing
under those Italian jeans. For my part
I'm going to watch hours of television
wearing nothing but a pair of running shoes.
I'm going to walk out
into the yard and begin courting
the rosebushes. I'm not going to
let a little thing like the world stand in my way.
Why should I? I understand it
as much as I understand penguins
and I still go to the zoo. I still watch them
It's like watching really beautiful gods
moving within a universe
that other, taller gods built for them
out of compassion and ingenuity.
It would be easy to sit at the bar smoking,
drinking, ruminating about the why of penguins,
pulling our hair out, crying into our gin
about how the penguins have forsaken us,
how nature is having another party
and we're not invited.
I like the world in all its incredible forms.
When I've had the shit beat out of me, my friends
who have died their violent and accidental
deaths, falling from windows, swerving
into the lights of traffic, my suffering,
my unearned joy, my hand reaching up
through the yards of fabric that made your dress,
the midnight movies, all the kids huffing
all the paint thinners, the comedy
of the poor and the ruthlessness
of the rich, how we're too hungry to fight,
too crushed by debt and the psycho
promise of there's-always-tomorrow,
of rent-to-own, the smell
of carrots, the smell of gasoline, the mysteries
of bread and wine, the sky
in Montana with Laura beneath it,
the sky in Portland when my brother was buried
in his little tin of ash, the happiness
of love and the pity of sex, the bathroom stalls,
the fruit markets, Rob proposing on one knee
wearing a panda costume, sweating inside
the fake fur, his bride in love,
the quarterback's son
paralyzed from the neck down
and then gone, the fear and fetish
of genitals, the way
we beat our selves into our suits and high heels.
I see how we are with each other.
I see how we act. It's not the world
with its ten-zillion things we should be grasping,
but the sincerity of penguins, the mess we made of the roses.
--- From All-American Poem
© 2008 The American Poetry Review